Thursday, December 23, 2010

Defending Assange

WikiLeaks personality Julian Assange is free from imprisonment because his rich friends threw his bail to get him out of jail. If he is extradited from Britain to Sweden and found guilty of sexual assault, that is the type of offense that even zealous Assange defenders should not forgive. However, there is the possibility the charges were a conspiracy of intelligence agencies. I never thought that I would rise to the defense of WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks has embarrassed the United States. The U.S. Department of Justice is out to get Assange for Wikileaks publishing embarrassing U.S. Department of State cables. Who would have guessed that there is corruption in Afghanistan, Russia and Pakistan? Is anyone surprised that the President of Yemen told his people that U.S. drone attacks on al-Quaida targets in Yemen that the bombs were Yemeni?

It used to be that newspapers like the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and other daily newspapers competed to scoop each other. The New York Times published the Pentagon papers of Daniel Ellsberg. The Washington Post parlayed a third-rate burglary at the Watergate into bringing down a U.S. President. Now the grey ladies are chiefly the lapdogs of the spin cycle of a Democratic Administration. They were stern critics of the government only when George W. Bush was President.

WikiLeaks stepped into this void and has exposed official corruption around the world. Assange is only a visible figurehead of a bigger organization of editors, fact-checkers and network administrators. Is he anti-American? Does anyone else remember when Rupert Murdock was accused of this?

When it suited their purpose, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hectored the Chinese and Iranians to allow greater Internet freedom. Now that their own ox has been gored, they mean to crack down on the same Internet freedom. Do as I say, not as I do.

What will this mean to my friends who post Internet complaints about the Transportation Security Administration, U.S Treasury Secretary Timothy Geitner, the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment or the gun-toting part of the Second Amendment? It might only be permissible to blame Republicans in the future to escape official blocking like the U.S. government has waged against WikiLeaks.

Vilifying Assange is a convenient mask for how the U.S. Departments of Defense and State forgot how to expose moles it developed when the USSR was spymaster. Espionage is bigger than Assange. The U.S. government prefers not to think about spies from China, India, Israel, Pakistan and stateless fundamentalist Islam, for example.

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